April starts with a day of jokes and sees us through the first moments of spring. It's such an uplifting time of the year and the perfect moment for BooksfromScotland to share books that can inspire a belly laugh as well promote a healthy, happy connection to everyone and everything around us. So kick off your shoes and enjoy our recommendations of the best in new fiction as well as nature, childrens, humour and spiritual books.

When Donald O’ Connor sings ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ in Singin’ in the Rain, it’s difficult to disagree with his point of view. Novelist Bobbie Darbyshire certainly follows Donald’s instruction in her latest novel, The Posthhumous Adventures of Harry Whittaker, and speaks to BooksfromScotland about comedic writing.


The Posthumous Adventures of Harry Whittaker By Bobbie Darbyshire Published by Sandstone Press


Tell us about your new novel, The Posthumous Adventures of Harry Whittaker.

Many thanks for featuring it! Harry is a hugely famous actor – think Laurence Olivier crossed with Jack Nicholson. He’s adored by his public, but in personal life he’s an outrageous old egotist. Dying of a heart attack, he finds himself still in this world, stuck in a bizarre afterlife, while his very much nicer son Richard tries to escape a failing café, a dotty mother and the wrong girlfriend.


What was the inspiration behind the book?

The story I’d begun to develop explored the effect of a father’s mean-spirited will on his family, but it wasn’t firing my imagination. Feeling stuck and downcast, I complained to a friend: ‘The problem is that the most interesting character is dead…’ As the words left my mouth – ping! – the light came on in my head: Harry would still be around, observing how his will was received. He would have obstacles to overcome in the afterlife, a predicament that would limit him severely, bring him down a peg and teach him some lessons. I couldn’t wait to start writing.


What is it about the world of showbusiness that makes it ripe for comedic writing?

I found great comic potential in the gulf between an individual’s personality on stage and off. Not just Har...


Polly Clark’s love for tigers started when she worked in Edinburgh Zoo. David Robinson is admiring of the ambition in Clark’s second novel, Tiger, and her own fascination with the inner life of these magnificent creatures.


Tiger By Polly Clark Published by Riverrun


Shere Khan. Tigger. Richard Parker. Tigers have always figured heavily in fiction, and writers have tried to frame their fearful symmetry for centuries, and certainly long before Polly Clark finished her first novel and started on her second.

Larchfield, her debut novel, told the story of Dora, a contemporary English poet, newly arrived in Helensburgh from Oxford, who overcomes her social isolation by throwing herself into studying WH Auden. It took its title from the name of the Helensburgh public school where Auden taught in the early 1930s, isolated by his homosexuality almost as much as ...



The Nature of Spring click

The Nature of Spring

‘These are the golden moments. They let me in, and briefly, I belong.’


Travels with a Stick click

Travels with a Stick

‘The freedom and trust of the Camino allows real friendship to arise and develop very quickly and can be a genuine source of blessing, even if it does not last longer than a few miles or a pilgrim din …


Lee Randall Reviews: You Will be Safe Here by Damian Barr click

Lee Randall Reviews: You Will be Safe Here by Damian Barr

‘Her eyes, smudges of no-run mascara, brim with her boy. When did he get so big? Will this place fix him?’


The Case of the Vanishing Granny click

The Case of the Vanishing Granny

‘“I think it ended all right,” he began. “One of the family went straight back to Spain and found her sitting on a beach eating an ice cream. She was quite disappointed to hear that the holiday was ov …


Field with a view click

Field with a view

‘The reflections that follow are formed by a lifetime of loving the intricacies and wonders of a planet that never ceases to awe, inspire and comfort me.’


The Accidental Social Entrepreneur click

The Accidental Social Entrepreneur

‘He did it out of love. And as a consequence of his selfless love, he was loved. It was all about love. Not a distant, duty-bound response to poverty, but the giving something of yourself, getting inv …


The Easternmost House click

The Easternmost House

‘Birds often cited as rare or endangered, particularly hen harriers, lapwings and curlews, are living quite happily here, untagged, unwatched, unseen by anyone, except occasionally by me and three duc …


Welcome to Tigeropolis! click

Welcome to Tigeropolis!

‘The Tigeropolis books have an important underlying message about conservation, but, above all, they are meant to be fun.’


The Gin Clan: Scottish Gins and Distilleries click

The Gin Clan: Scottish Gins and Distilleries

‘Today, three of the world’s bestselling gins – Gordon’s, Tanqueray and Hendrick’s – are all made in Scotland.’


The Lord of the Grins click

The Lord of the Grins

‘”I am Gadabout,’ the Lady welcomed, ‘and this is Cellphone, which is Telephono in the language of the No-Older.”’